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Cork Independent

Sport

'Fake it until you make it'

Wednesday, 6th March, 2019 4:30pm

Only 11 per cent of Irish women under the age of 25 are regularly involved in sport.

That was the stark stat revealed by Liberty Insurance this week at its Women in Sport: The Coaching Effect event which saw a host of female athletes talk about the challenges they have faced as women in sport.

Representing Cork at the event, Cork City FC first team coach Lisa Fallon spoke about her own experiences in a job that is heavily dominated by male coaches, saying: “If I had a euro every time I was asked if I was the physio, I could retire. People who don’t do their homework or don’t know who I am or what I’m capable of.”

It also emerged at the event that Liberty Insurance's research showed that almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of Irish people agree that female sports coaches are good role models for young women and 68 per cent agree that more female sports coaches would encourage more young women to participate in sports.

However, four in five haven’t seen any increase in female coaches in amateur or professional sports in the last year.

Fallon sees coaches and managers as role models and opportunity creators: “The reality is that women can’t do anything in sport without the opportunity. You need every opportunity to reach your potential,” she said.

Other panellists made similar comments. Tania Rosser, coach at Clontarf RFC, said that she had to reluctantly step away from women’s rugby to pursue her ambitions of provincial and national coaching.

Rowing Ireland CEO Michelle Carpenter said that while huge progress has been made for female rowers, rowing coaching has not followed suit. “Even though we have equality in the sport in the water, we don’t have it on the bank.”

What can women — and sports organisations — do to level the playing field? According to Liberty research, over a third of Irish people believe all professional male sports teams should have to interview at least one female candidate for a coaching or managerial position. 44 per cent would support extra funding for the training of female coaches.

“Fake it until you make it,” said Chelsea FC Women’s manager Emma Hayes. “The men I’ve interviewed are often confident beyond their abilities. Women, on the other hand, stammer and sweat, even if they’re qualified. Perhaps we have to start thinking about how we recruit people, or we as women have to do better at putting our names forward.”

Speaking about women’s sport in general, she added: “If a sponsor wants to come on board with the men’s team, they should have to sponsor the women’s team, too.”

Former Wexford camogie player Mags D’Arcy said that environment plays a big part in encouraging more women to take part in sport: “I have really seen the value of creating inner circle of supportive people. Role models are important, too. Look to challenge yourself at every turn and expose yourself to as many people in the industry as possible to upskill continuously.”

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